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Talking it Over: Eight gallons may not seem like a lot...

HANCOCK -- It was kind of a quiet little celebration. Probably only myself and two other people, volunteers, who even noticed. Despite that, it was a measure of accomplishment and, to some degree, pride in what I had done.

I recently visited the annual blood drive in my home town and when finished donating, realized that I had reached the eight gallon mark.

For some this may not seem like a lot but when you think about removing eight gallons of blood out from your body, it is monumental. That is because the average human body only contains five quarts or ten pints of blood.

Therefore, when you consider taking eight gallons out, you would remove 64 pints over several years. That means that the blood in my body has been totally replaced six times. Wow. I should feel very fresh and renewed.

In fact, after I give blood I do feel pretty good. A few hours after giving, my body starts to replace the blood and before long, you don’t even notice that it is gone. However, it is not only the physical part of feeling good, but I get a wonderful feeling of accomplishment and mentally just plain feel great.

Years ago, after a long surgery, I was given a pint of blood. I remember how I felt before getting the blood and the incredible difference that one pint made at that time. I have also witnessed the lifesaving gift that blood can be in so many other situations. It is truly a gift of life.

I sat in the canteen at the bloodmobile and together with the volunteers there, calculated my donations over the years. I was then given a beautiful little gold pin shaped like a blood drop with a tiny eight at the bottom. It will probably just make its new home in my jewelry box, like the previous seven pins, but is very special to me.

Later I was thinking that people who give blood should really wear these pins with pride. For me, it has meant over 64 visits, time taken away from work, family and other commitments, to donate blood. There are times when I have been deferred for various reasons and even times when I have not felt too good afterward. There was also one time when I passed out but I went back the next time, determined not to let that stop me and it didn’t.

I want to encourage people to try to give blood whenever possible and thank those who do. From personal experience I know what a commitment it can be and am thankful for those who work there and volunteer to keep this vital cause going. I know that those who benefit from the regular blood drives are very thankful for these gifts.